Were you obsessed with The Care and Keeping of You as a kid? Think of this series as an updated, adult version! You already learned all about your cervix. This month, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, we’re talking boobs, from self-exams & mammograms to finding the perfect-for-you bra and breast play.
Taking Care of Your Breasts
is it me or do my breasts change throughout the month?
It’s not you – it’s your hormones! When you start your period, your breasts will be lumpy. By the end, they’ve pulled a disappearing act! Around ovulation they get extra perky and proceed to their fullest right before your period. Some people need different size bras during the week before their period.
My boobs get sore midway through my cycle. What can I do?
- Experiment with different bras. Some people find a softcup or sports bra provides the most relief. Others prefer a molded cups.
- Try breast massage. I know I know – the last thing you want to do is touch your breasts when they hurt! But my friend Amanda taught me this trick & it’s been a fucking lifesaver.How-to: Using the palm of your hand, glide down the outside of your breast then up the inside. Do this for 3-5 minutes, starting super gently and increasing pressure as it feels comfortable. Take it up a notch by using this essential oil to help balance your hormones. You also can have your partner do this for a super intimate experience – just be sure to set boundaries beforehand if you don’t want it to progress into other sexy times.
What do I need to know about preventing breast cancer?
- Do monthly self-exams. The more you touch your breasts, the better you’ll know what’s normal changes and what’s not. That’s why monthly self exams are so important. Try to do it at the same time each month. Here’s how to do one.
- Start by looking at your breasts in a mirror with your arms relaxed by your side. Look for any changes in size, shape, or color, any swelling or dimpling, or any changes in the nipples. Do the same visual exam with your arms lifted above your head and with your hands pressing into your hips to flex your chest muscles.
- Next, lay with a pillow under one shoulder and that arm behind your head. Use the opposite hand, move the pads of your fingers around your breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit. Feel for any lump, thickening, or hardened knots. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Lastly, while in the shower, use the pads of your fingers to move around your each breast in a circular pattern from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Feel for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot.
- See your sexual & reproductive healthcare provider regularly. That means going in for a yearly “Well Woman visit” to get a clinical breast exam, pelvic exam, and any other screenings you might need (like a Pap smear).
- Get the right screenings. Here are the most updated breast cancer screening guidelines. Note: If you have dense breasts, a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, or have had abnormal test results, these guidelines may be different.
- If you’re under 40: the risks of getting a mammogram are likely higher than the benefit. Talk to a trusted healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for you.
- If you’re 40-49 years old: talk to your healthcare provider about when to start and how often to get a mammogram.
- If you’re 50-74 years old: get a mammogram every two years.
Keeping of Your Boobs
How to find bras that actually fit
My friend Kimmay is a lingerie expert. I call her the boob whisperer, and she’s taught me so much about bras. Here are a few of my favorite bra fit tips that I’ve learned from her.
- Measure yourself the right way. Yes, there’s a best way to measure yourself! Learn how to do that so finding bras can be more #freedominpleasure-filled: Find Your Bra Size Starting Points
- Look for these things when trying on new bras – or deciding if the ones you own need to be replaced!
- The center part between cups should be flat against your skin.
- When getting a new bra, it should fit snugly on the loosest hook. That way as it stretches over time, you can tighten it.
- The straps should be snug – neither tight nor falling off.
- Most of the support in a bra comes from the band. Try this: after putting your bra on, take the straps down and see if the bra still keeps your boobs up.
- Let go of cultural ideas about your boob size – what’s “appropriate” and not, what size “real women” (ICK) have, etc. It’s all BS – your bra size says absolutely nothing about you as a person. That’s the goal of Kimmay’s #MoreThanMyNumber campaign and if you have #allthefeels after doing your measurement, I highly recommend checking it out!
My favorite bra brands
Adapted from: Kait’s Favorite Things in 2016
Natori: I stumbled upon Natori a few years ago when I had my first bra fitting and I’ve been a devotee ever since. Their bras are so well-made and sexy and comfortable – the lingerie embodiment of #freedominpleasure! Yes, they cost a bit more but if you take care of them, they’ll last way longer than your cheap bras. My personal fave is the Feathers.
Wacoal: Ditto everything I said about Natori except Wacoal is slightly more utilitarian and lower-priced. The keyword for both those descriptors is slightly! I’m currently lusting after the Lace Affair in green because it’s a softcup, non-underwire bra that’s super supportive. What sorcery is this?!
B’Tempted is Wacoal’s younger, hipper, & more affordable brand. (Can we talk about how I love when brands give you a variety of accessible options?!) Still high quality and with brighter colors and trendier styles. I’m obsessed with my Bella Balconette in Blithe.
Anita: My Anita sports bra it’s the best one I’ve ever adorned myself with. It keeps my girls in place without causing the dreaded uniboob or digging into my skin. I feel so confident in it that I took my shirt off during yoga for the first time last week! I love that that they offer a front-close sports bra because on high pain days, it’s hard for me to pull a “regular” one over my head.
Breasts are wonderful but sometimes overlooked sources of pleasure. For some, breast play even leads to orgasm! But the benefits don’t end there: breast play is also great for you and your relationship.
The more you and your partner touch your breasts, the more familiar you’ll be with how they feel. This makes it easier to spot any changes. On top of that, breast play helps you feel closer to your partner because it causes your brain to release oxytocin, the love and cuddling hormone.
Like any sex act, breast play isn’t for everyone. If that’s you, no worries. If you want to e
4 Ways to Make Breast Play More pleasurable.
- Start gently! No pawing or grabbing please!! For most people, this doesn’t feel good. Instead, start with light touches, firm but soft squeezes, and gentle kisses and licks.
- Explore different types of touch. Think: massaging, soft touching, teasing, squeezing, stroking, sucking, jiggling, slapping, kneading, scratching, pinching, pressing, pushing them together, and bouncing them. Explore different amounts of pressure
- Don’t only focus on the nipple! Breasts have lots of yummy nerve endings and they aren’t all in the nipple! The sides and underneath of the breast are often quite sensitive.Try this: have your beau put massage oil on their hands (this one is my fave). Then, use the palms of their hands to stroke up from your belly and around your breasts, cupping them all the way around. Switch direction, lifting your breasts from the underside. Finally, they can use 3 fingers to circle your areolas, barely touching the nipple itself.
- Give nipple clamps a chance. If you think nipple clamps are only for kinksters, think again! Clamps create an ongoing sensation of pressure. If you have adjustable ones, that can be as intense or gentle as you want. Putting them on is only half the fun though – when you remove them, blood rushes to the area and heightens sensation even more.
Start by teasing your nipples until they’re rock hard. Then clamp as much flesh as possible – the more flesh, the less pinpoint the sensation (you can always get more concentrated as possible). And never clamp just the nipple, it can cause tissue damage. Once they’re on, use your hands, tongue, and sex toys (try a feather tickler or external vibrator) to tease and well…titillate. <– pun intended obvi.
Keep the conversation going!
- Leave a comment below with any questions about the care, keeping, & pleasuring of breasts.
- Share this post with the other breast-havers in your life. I’m not exaggerating when I say it could change or save their life.